With the water system failing in the Mississippi state capital, inflation out of control, and the possibility of a looming winter energy crisis, National Preparedness Month seems all the more critical to observe this month of September.
Too many people are too oblivious and too complacent about where their water comes from, where their food comes from, and where their energy comes from. Too many us blithely flip switches and turn on taps expecting that these systems will always be working to serve our needs whenever we want them. It doesn’t make you a “crazy prepper” to want to be ready for natural disasters and unforeseen negative events.
There is a whole government sponsored website called Ready.gov which actually encourages the American population to do these things. Hope is not a plan.
What if you woke up tomorrow and the power was out for a week?
What if a flood contaminates your local water supply, rendering it undrinkable? Or worse yet, what if a main break means you get Zero water to your home or anywhere for miles around?
Have you thought about how you will charge your emergency devices, how you will light your home, how you will cook something to eat and how you will keep warm or cool without electricity? Will the gas station’s pumps run? Will the card swipe work? Will the ATM machine work? Do you have cash?
Have you thought about how you will get drinking water? What about toilet flushing water? Bathing/hygiene water?
If you haven’t ever seriously considered these things, that’s what National Preparedness Month is all about. It’s about educating yourself and learning how to be better prepared for emergencies.
Things I am doing this month:
Refreshing my Get-Home Bag.
Buying and testing a smaller rocket stove – to use less biomass fuel when I don’t need a big burn. There will hopefully be a future article about this.
Dumping and replacing my stored water. I’ll actually not dump, it’ll be used in the garden and the outside storage tub that I imagine I’ll use for flushing toilets and such if needed.
Changing smoke detector and CO detector batteries.
Making sure my stored food gets rotated.
Buying and storing more propane (in an outside shed).
Buying long fireplace matches and extended reach lighters to more easily light my gas oven if the power is out.
Thinking about ways to encourage friends and neighbors to also get prepared for emergencies. This is partly about being a good human being but it also helps you. The more people around you who are also prepared keeps you from having to deal with unexpected drains on your supplies and additional mouths to feed to complicate your survival plans.
All of that is besides my usual garden canning and dehydrating that I normally do this time of year anyway. Although I do not live in a hurrricane zone, I do live in an area that can get excess rainfall from a “petering out inland” hurricane. Therefore the hurricane season is a good benchmark for “time to check the emergency supplies” – even in my area of the country.
My house is located in an area where things would have to get nearly apocalyptic before I would have to evacuate, but not everyone is in the same boat. If you live in an area that is a potential evacuation zone for anything from floods to wildfires, it’s time to check your bug out/evacuation kits/boxes.
Water is Heavy
I’ve discovered a few more things to consider when rotating my stock as well. One is to keep an eye on the size of my water storage jugs. While I can easily handle and carry the 3 gallon jugs when they are full, the 6 gallon water storage jugs are a giant pain to get up and down the basement steps. This is a consideration as I get older.
While I can carry them for short distances on the flats and currently hold on to the stair rail with one hand and lift the 6 gallon jugs up one step at a time, it is a bit laborious and I may not be able to do that in ten more years. Maybe I will, but maybe not. My elbow hurt for two days after I did this the last time. These three jugs looked great in the store when they were empty and light, but now not so much. The internet says that 6 gallons of water weighs just about 50 pounds – oy. Given this I’ll be buying smaller jugs or only filling these halfway, which means I need more jugs anyway – lesson learned.
Propane is Forever
Another thing I learned while rotating stock is that I don’t have enough propane. Propane apparently keeps almost forever (unlike kerosene, gasoline, etc) so I really don’t have an excuse. I have heretofore stored about 20 1-lb bottles because that is what my gear – from stove to grill to portable heater – runs on. But I recently bought my own 20 pound tank and gear to refill the 1 pounders, in addition to a conversion hose to run it all off the 20 pounder.
I have read that it is better to buy your own tanks and refill them at places like Menards rather that use the “turn-in and take the next one” routine. The next tank you get may be a crappy one which may not hold up. Better to buy and keep your own. I’ll be buying and storing another 20 pounder this week, and maybe a third as well.
Prepared vs Crazy?
For me this is all about trying to find the balance between reasonably prepared and stepping onto the crazy train. No I have NOT bought a Geiger counter or a gas mask. I have some basic OTC meds in a plastic tub but no, despite being a physician I am NOT going to be setting up a combat aid station in my basement. Yes, I keep a get-home bag in my car because roads wash out and snow storms happen. But I do NOT pack it as if I will need to fight thru the zombie hordes to get home, normal concealed carry excepted. This is about finding where your own personal balance is. You have to figure out where that line is for yourself.
Take this opportunity to review your plans for the unexpected. Revise or make additions as needed. If you have no plans, it’s time to get started. Winter is coming.